O’Driscoll happy to avoid trial by tackles

British & Irish Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll is grateful he does not have to prove his Test credentials in an 80-minute trial match against team-mates and close rivals. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

British & Irish Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll is grateful he does not have to prove his Test credentials in an 80-minute trial match against team-mates and close rivals.

That is just what the All Blacks will be doing on Friday night in Napier when the Probables take on the Possibles, with places at stake in the New Zealand side for the Test against Fiji and the Lions series.

The focus on the All Blacks trial this year may not be as great as it was 12 months ago, given the New Zealand Maori have also picked a strong squad and the Cantabrian contingent are unavailable following their Super 12 triumph last weekend.

Tana Umaga has been forced out through illness and Mils Muliani, who was to be used in the centres, is in doubt after visiting a specialist for advice on a long-standing shoulder injury.

Nevertheless, outstanding performances for the Possibles in last year’s match earned the likes of Jonno Gibbes and Keith Robinson places in the All Blacks team to face England.

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The Lions will be watching closely, just 24 hours before opening their tour against Bay of Plenty. But would O’Driscoll like a Lions trial?

"I guess not, no. I don’t think we are there to play against one another, we are there to help each other along," he said.

"There is a great competitive edge to our training sessions but the difference between trial matches and training sessions is that you are fighting against one another, whereas we are trying to help one another along.

"But we will certainly cast a good eye on it and see the guys who are in form.

"They are notoriously tough games, All Black trial matches, and there is a massive competitive edge because there are 30-plus guys fighting for 15 spots so there are no friends out there. It will be interesting viewing."

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